Thursday, December 27, 2007

This Too Shall Pass!

This is Isabella. She cries. And cries. And cries. She is still very, very cute and very, very loveable but she cries an awful lot! That makes for a very hard time to get other necessities in life done. Like cleaning the house. Like bathing the dogs. Like bathing the kids. Like taking a shower. Even getting myself to look unscary. And blogging. "This too shall pass!" is what I repeat to myself daily. The good thing is, I truly know it will. Repetition is what has taught me this very valuable lesson of "This too shall pass!" Repetition of having 5 other little girls ahead of her that have had various challenging characteristics or phases. Like one colicky baby (our first). Like many tantrumy children. Like several aspiring artists. Like lots of fighting warriors. Like terrible tattle-tailing. And many loveable, cherishable characteristics. Like calling me, "Mama" (I miss that, now I'm just "Mom"). Like the innocence of toddlerhood. Like the total trust that Mom and Dad know what they are talking about. Like believing in the magic of Santa Claus (two of them have caught on that although Santa really exists, he is a little different than they once believed). So I have learned to cherish each moment, good and bad, because "This too shall pass!"

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas To All!

I feel like I may need to hang this up for a while! I just decided to forfeit a little sleep and actually blog for a little bit. It's now 2am and I just finished up with all the presents, stocking stuffing, getting things a bit set up for tomorrow...thought then that although I am achingly tired, I have a quiet house for once, and sat down. Baby instantly was alerted that I have uttered the thought of blogging in my head and she began to cry! So, until further notice, I bid my blog Good-Bye!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

29 Years Ago....

Exactly 29 years ago today, almost to the minute, now that I look at the time, my mom passed away. I had just turned 8 years old only 11 days before (and she had turned 41 years old only 12 days before...our birthdays were one day apart). It had to have been the most confusing, mind-boggling day in my life!

I was in second grade, in a small school. I remember that we were just doing our thing in that second grade room, I think broken up into groups of some sort, class was in more of an informal mode. Suddenly, I could hear someone at the door talking to the teacher. Next thing I knew, I was being called to the door, and when I went over there, the principal was standing there, informing me that I needed to grab my stuff, I was leaving for the day. I went back to my coat hook, gathered up my coat, boots, and whatever else I typically took home each day and went over to the door, quite mystified. Why was I leaving?

When I went out into the hallway, I saw my younger brother waiting for me. Then it dawned on me! We had our Sunday School program that following Sunday (this was a Wednesday) and I was sure that we were having an extra practice. I think that maybe we did have a practice planned for that night at the church and somehow I decided that they must have upped the time...this was a very important event, you know!

When we got down the hall to the principal's office, which was only three doors down, I noticed that my uncle was there waiting for us and within a very short time, my brothers and sisters were coming down the hall from the high school. They were crying....what was wrong? Then my uncle told us, "God has decided to take your mom to heaven!" I could feel the waves of absolute confusion and disbelief hit me slowly. What on earth was he saying? There was only one thing, that my mom had died, but he didn't actually say that!

The next thing that I remember is riding to the next town to the hospital, about a 10 mile drive, in our uncle's big, green Suburban.

Next, we were in a small family waiting room full of people. Everyone was crying, some actually wailing. My grandma, my dad's mom, was almost hysterical, wailing and going from person to person, giving hugs. My mom and grandma were very close. My brother and I kind of slunk back and tried to wedge ourselves between one of the adults and a wall near the door. She still found us!

Next, I remember the doctor coming in, still in his green scrubs. He too was sobbing! *He had delivered all 11 of our babies, this was the 12th... he was totally grief-stricken and somehow felt immense guilt, although the condition she passed away from, we later learned, was totally rare and usually fatal...he passed away of a heart attack the next month.*

The next memory I have of that day is coming home and walking up to our farmhouse, looking at the front door and seeing the faces of my two sisters that had stayed home that day to babysit the two who weren't in school peering through the window, looking first happy, then slightly confused. They thought Mom had had the baby but at the same time, I think they also sensed something wasn't right.

Then, the house was full of crying and sobbing people, a group of neighbors came and formed a prayer ring in the kitchen.

Soon, the kitchen was full of food, goodies, people....we girls slipped away upstairs to our bedroom to discuss our future without Mom. Now what? How are we going to keep up with the house, the meals, the laundry..? A plan was quickly formulated...a job chart with rotating weekly jobs (which, amazingly over the years, never wavered; every week we faithfully switched jobs and not one week was missed). The older girls took over meals, laundry was coordinated by my oldest sister.

What a day, what a week, what a Christmas! There is so much more to reminesce....finding gifts in closets, trying to figure out to whom each was intended, then finding Mom's list after Christmas and wondering, do we let everyone have the gift they got or make them switch to whom Mom had intended them to go, to honor her intentions...Christmas carolers suddenly showing up one evening to sing outside our living room window, resulting in my Dad sobbing throughout the singing....trying to stumble through that Christmas without mom! Lots of heartache, confusion, pulling together and circling wagons within our family..Dad grieving for about a week, then pulling himself up, kicking in as both the mom and dad to this family of 11 children, ranging in age from 2 to 19....coming together in this traumatic time and becoming a very close, tight-knit family and staying that way to this day...very, very close friends forever!

*Just a side note, keep in mind, these are the memories from an eight-year-old mind. Some of them may be slightly off but most of them have since been discussed and verified within our family, each of us remembering each event with our own details...when we add the details all together, the whole event becomes more full for each of us. *

*On our mom's birthday (December 1st) and the anniversary of her death (December 13th), we light a white candle in her memory. This year, one of my daughters gave me a Christmas gift is the heart-shaped candle holder with a white tea candle in it in the photos above. I thought it to be a very appropriate candle to light in my mom's memory!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

"....And All Through the House...."

"...not a creature was stirring, not even my baby!" until I finally called at 1:00 a.m. when I still hadn't received any frantic calls with baby screaming in the background, or any calls asking, "Okay now, what did you say again to do for...". Not even any calm little text messages reporting to me that she's eating now, time to pump! My oldest daughter sleepily answered the phone when I called. Before I left to work, she had asked me to call every two hours just to make sure that baby wasn't crying and they weren't hearing her. I told her that I didn't feel it was necessary until a little later, so now I was making that phone call, anticipating ear splitting screams in the background mixed with log-sawing snores. It was strangely, and peacefully..almost eerily, silent. I asked her, "Did Dad feed Isabella yet?" Holli: "No!" Me: "Do you think he might have maybe stayed up late on the computer and then fed her just before going to sleep?" (Like she would know that! She was sleeping!) Holli: "I don't think so!" Me: "And she is quiet now, right? (straining my ears)" Holli: "Yes.." Me: "Okay, now really quietly go take a peak at her and make sure she's still breathing...I mean that she doesn't have a blanket over her face or anything...don't turn on any lights, just leave the hallway light on and tiptoe in there.. I don't want her to wake up from you checking on her (and then have my husband blame me for the disturbance)" It was quiet for a moment, then my husband's sleepy voice, "Yeah?" I asked, "Oh, did Holli give you the phone? I didn't tell her to wake you up, just to check up on the baby!" He said, "No, I just took it from her because all the fussing around is waking the baby up!" There you go, I'm getting the blame here I can tell! I said, "She has never gone this long without eating before...she would have woken up right about now anyway! Okay, quick hang up and then just let me know when she eats so I can pump!" I decided to pump right away then anyway because I was going to have to get busy soon and turn the guy I take care of and wouldn't be able to pump for a while otherwise. I pumped and just as I finished, my husband called to say they were warming the bottle up for her. (He and Holli had decided that they were going to tag team on this one, just in case it turns into a monster of a night, so I had treats ready for them to make it into a party if need be, so Holli was up helping at this point.) Then at about 6:30 a.m. I got a call asking what time I get off and what time I would be home because baby was beginning to stir again and if I would be home soon enough, he wouldn't thaw another bottle, then I wouldn't have to pump. Well, I made it home just in time for her first cry of the morning...she made it all through my 11 hours of being gone (I had left early to run an errand) with only one feeding and was awake for about one hour afterwards for a diaper change and then minimal fussing, mostly just looking around and entertaining herself. I think this man is hired for night duty!

And work went like this: fun catching up with my client, shooting the breeze about whatever we felt like shooting the breeze about, catching up on emails, posting on my blog, doing some cares such as vital signs (checking blood pressure, pulse, oxygen saturation level, lung sounds, bowel sounds), skin care and about 4 turns and repositioning, suctions...then other duties such as checking all the machine settings, check oxygen tank level, med set up, clean suction canister, empty garbage, clean the bathroom and then the computer desk/work station and chart! And the guy I care for is very nice, doesn't argue or talk back to me, doesn't call me "mean" or any other names (at least not out loud), is super easy-going, just an all-around super guy!!!

Now, off to my 24/7 baby, who is currently vamping up for a "turn my face purple" sort of a crying session. I think she's a 24/6, 15/1 baby now. The 24/6 for the 6 days I take care of her all 24 hours (meaning high-maintenance all 24 hours I care for her), and 15/1 on the one day my husband has her 10 hours and I have her the remaining 14 (meaning high-maintenance for my 14 hours and one of Eric's 10 hours, equalling 15 hours of high-maintenance).

Oh, minor little side note now: Just a few moments ago I was telling my husband that I was going to post an update blog telling of the "...and all through the house...not a creature was stirring, not even my baby!" And he said, without missing a beat, "Until someone decides to call at 1 a.m.!" I said, "Hey now, she's too little to wake up from a teeny bit of fussing (that didn't even entail turning a light on)! She has never gone that long without eating! She would have woken up within 15 minutes of that, I guarantee you!" to which he just sat there for a moment with a small grin on his face, and then a, "I guess we'll never know..." My response, "I know!" We both laughed and he drove off to run some errands. So who all thinks I will ever live that little phone call down? And I know I'm right...and he knows I'm right, I'm sure...but he will never admit it! My body is really pretty tuned in to her feeding times and I had just had a milk letdown right before I called...I did inform him of this just before the, "I guess we'll never know.." comment but he didn't want to buy it!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Aaahhhhh, Vacation At Last!

I headed off to my first night of my Mommy Vacation.....and I'm getting paid!!!! AND, out of the nine hours I will be here, I only will be working about 4 hours total, at the most! How can you beat that? I headed back to my first night of work post-baby! The hours before I took off sans baby went something like this:

I tucked into bed at about 3:30pm with baby for a long slumbering nap of 1 1/2 hours!!!! Yippeee, I'm ready to go all night off of that nap! I got up to a freshly baked pizza, then let my husband go take about a 2 1/2 hour nap, just in case he's up a lot tonight with our fussy baby! Hmmm, I'm going to work where I have to be up all night and get to sleep 1 1/2 hours in preparation for my shift. My husband may have to be up a good portion of the night but probably will be able to sleep at least a good portion of it and he gets to sleep 2 1/2 hours (or maybe even a bit more)? In his defense, I was the one to decide to get up early just to make sure I get through the shower, feed the baby, burp her, change her (including her clothes cause she smelled so sour; she spits up a lot), get my lunch ready, etc. It only made sense that he sleeps in the least one of us got to sleep!

I fed my baby, burped her and got spit up all over, went to find clothes for my shower and showered, where I was joined by my baby, who both my oldest daughter and I deemed way too stinky...she loved being snuggled up to my chest wrapped in a tiny towel basking in the warm water spraying on her back! After she went out, wrapped up in a huge beach towel, to be dried, lotioned and dressed by my daughter, my 3 y.o. decided to join me. We finished up pretty fast and I proceeded to get ready for work.

After getting ready, I went out to begin (or continue) my baby's feeding frenzy. After feeding her and tucking her, all relaxed and content (she had fussed all day until she and I went to sleep this afternoon, me still in my pj's), I started getting my pump, food, and paperwork to work on in my down time ready. At this point, my 3 y.o. started asking me, "Can I have a candy cane?"

Let me give you a little history of this loaded candy cane question before I go on. This young lady already began asking for the Christmas tree to be put up before school started in the fall. She remembered from last year (when she was at the ripe old age of 2, in case any of you are mathematically challenged and couldn't figure out that our 3 y.o. would have been 2 one year ago), that we load our tree with candy canes. This is a tradition my husband started many years ago and, try as I might, I have never been able to deter his love of this tradition. The girls wait for him to come home at some point in December with boxes and boxes of the big candy canes so they can load em on the tree and then proceed to badger me to death every waking moment for a candy cane! Today was Candy Cane Day!!!

Okay, back to the candy cane question. I began to hear, about every 5-10 seconds, different variations of, "Can I have a candy cane?" It went something like this: "Can I have a candy cane?" Me: "Just before I leave." Her: "Please can I have a candy cane?" Me: "When I leave." Her: "Please can I have a candy cane? I said please!!!" Me: "You can have a candy cane when I am ready to go to work! Not before!" Her: "Can I have a candy cane, Mom? Please? Mom, I said please!" Me: "Nice! I'm glad you said please! You can have a candy cane when I leave, okay?" This went on for a very long time because I had to put my coffee pot going, then make a sandwich, pack the rest of my food, pour my coffee into a mug, feed baby again, burp her, tuck her back in just so to try to make sure she is comfortable enough that I can get out the door before she decides to start to scream, get my boots, jacket, mittens on, bring most of my load to the some point, my daughter finally told me, "Okay, quit! Quit now! Okay, Mom, all done! You're all done! You're all DONE!" Finally, as I sat down to feed the baby the last time I figured it was close enough to my departure that she could just as well have her candy cane. I wasn't even done with the baby and she sweetly came out of the kitchen to ask me, "Mom, do you think I could have another candy cane?" I just stared at her, only able to respond with, "What??? NO! No more candy canes!" Her response: "Later? Can I have a candy cane later?" Me: "Sure...much later, like tomorrow!" Her: "No, say later! Say I can have one later!" Me: (leaning forward and staring her straight into her eyeballs) "NOT UNTIL TOMORROW, OKAY?"

After being tortured by my 3 y.o.'s verbal barrage, I left the house after 6 hugs, 6 kisses, 6 "I love you!"s, and 6 "Have fun Mom!"s with my ears ringing and my arms feeling weirdly empty (my baby usually comes with me wherever I go since I nurse her and it's just so easy to take her with instead of pumping ahead of time)! As I drove down the hill, with the dome light on, waving back at the girls at the patio door, I felt a little giddy! I usually stress out more about leaving my newborns for the first long stretch like that but this time I just couldn't! I could only feel a little giddy and a bit relieved to let them all deal with this 24/7 baby! Now watch, she will sleep all night like a charm, except for feedings, and will make a liar out of me!!!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Wow, it's been busy over here!

I have had so many things I could post on but no time to do it!!!

I think I could do a big old post on the things my 3 y.o. comes up with but will stick to just one quick story since I need to be up again in 4 hours and I think I hear my baby waking up!

We have been having quite the time getting our two dogs totally used to each other. We adopted our Beagle, Hailey, from the Humane Society mid-August. Just to explain why it's taken this long is that I usually am the one here the most of me and my husband so it's been more my job to work with the dogs. Shortly after we got Hailey, I went on bedrest, then had the baby early, had longer hospitalization, etc.... Now, finally, I feel like I have the mental and physical energy to really work with them. However, Mac has this obsession with sniffing Hailey's rear-end. From all we've studied on dogs, sniffing is a greeting but can also be a sort of show of dominance, which we suspect is the case here when we see all the other things Mac does and the body language he has when close to Hailey. A couple days ago, I was having this conversation with Mac that went something like this, "MAC!!! Get away from her REAR!!! You can learn how to be in the same proximity as Hailey without focusing on her butt! QUIT SNIFFING her!!!! You know, it just plain old gets old having to babysit you all the time...blah-blah-blah!!!!" I was sitting on the couch nursing the baby, as I am about 90% of the time, or at least providing some care to her about 90% of the time. I was just watching Mac wandering around and noticed that he seemed like he finally was going to let Hailey be and quit sniffing her! Just as I was kind of zoning out and relaxing about the whole issue, I saw my 3 y.o., in her own little world and with a huge grin on her face, run up to Mac (picture this knowing that her nose is about rectum-level to Mac), sniff-sniff-sniff his rear end, then turn around and fairy-prance back to the couch, looking very victorious with her accomplishment! She was muttering something to herself about "sniffin' Mac"!!! Gross! I guess she decided to show him who the real boss is and who gets the last word in around here!!!!